Reviews

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Welcome to the folking.com review section.

The folking review team is a small, dedicated group of people with a passion and a commitment for the folk, acoustic and Americana music scene. They review the latest releases, each in their own inimitable style…

All our reviewers give their spare time to bring you this resource and we always looking for new people to get involved who share a similar passion for the genre to help lighten the load. If that sounds like you, then please email us here for more information about joining the folking review team.

Wickham 2017 Reviewed

‪ Squelch... Wickham Festival finally kicked off to a great start with sets from ‪Low, Barker, Morris & Tunstall which sounds like a firm of solicitors instead of musical, dance and poetry partners in festival law; Andy Fairweather Low, Les Barker, the Wickham Morris Sides and KT Tunstall. Now tell me ...
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DARIA KULESH & JONNY DYER – live at The Troubadour

The Troubadour is one of the iconic venues in the country. Founded in 1954, it still occupies the coffee shop in Old Brompton Road near Earl’s Court where it started. It has played host to most of the greats on the folk scene, many before anyone else had heard of ...
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JOAN OSBORNE – Songs Of Bob Dylan (Womanly Hips Records WHCD001)

I should say from the outset that I’m a sucker for covers of Bob Dylan songs. Artists can and do so much with them and occasionally transcend the originals even though that may sound like heresy. So when Joan Osborne’s Songs Of Bob Dylan appeared on my horizon I practically ...
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SINGLES BAR 24

A round-up of recent EPs and singles MERRY HELL describe the title track of their new EP, Come On, England, as an alternative National Anthem. Needless to say, the song bears no resemblance to the chants of the football terraces or EDL marches. Instead Bob Kettle invokes the Diggers and ...
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DAVID RAWLINGS – Poor David’s Almanack (Acony)

The material is all new, but, in part because several are based on traditional stories and songs, the feel is ageless as David Rawlings evokes a sense of a vanished rural America in a similar gothic folk manner to his longtime musical partner, Gillian Welch who, as ever, joins him ...
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THE YOUNG ‘UNS – Strangers (Hereteu Records YNGS17)

The Young’Uns have come a long way in a few short years. Strangers is their fourth studio album, coming a mere three years after they turned professional. The trio are strong singers, they enjoy the sort of on-stage banter that only good friends can get away with and they have ...
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ELEANOR McEVOY – The Thomas Moore Project (Moscodisc MOSCD4015)

Well, you certainly can’t accuse Eleanor McEvoy of being predictable when it comes to releasing albums. Over the past six years she’s done stripped down solo (Alone), bluesy (If You Leave), a collection of fan-requested rarities (Stuff) and studio recordings of songs played as in a live show (Naked). Now, ...
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RICHARD THOMPSON – Acoustic Classics II (Beeswing BSW015P)

The latest batch of new solo, stripped back acoustic recordings from the Thompson songbook brings together material previously only available in band format or not on his solo releases. Fairport devotees will be particularly enthused by a version of the song that launched it all, ‘Meet On The Ledge’, a ...
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MEGAN HENWOOD – River (Dharma Records DHARMACD30)

The third album by singer-songwriter Megan Henwood, River, is due for release on 27th October 2017. And it demonstrates the evolving talent and maturity of a singer who had already made considerable impression in 2009, when she and her brother Joe won Radio 2's Young Folk Award, and a writer ...
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MARTIN SIMPSON – Trails & Tribulations (Topic TSCD593)

Martin Simpson never disappoints, whether live or on record, but rarely does he surprise. Rather he evolves over time and emerges with something new and different as he has here. Trails & Tribulations is his 20th solo album in a career going back to the early seventies. You sort of ...
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BOB LESLIE – Land and Sea (Big Red Records. Big Red 3)

Following 2010’s In a Different World and 2011’s Fat Cat, Land and Sea is the third release in the discography of Bob Leslie, and it offers a dozen tales, some from history and others from the heart, but all of which are well informed, well composed and personally felt in ...
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TOM RUSSELL – Folk Hotel (Proper PRPCD143P)

Tom Russell releases a new studio album Folk Hotel on September 8th. Russell has been described as “The greatest living folk-country songwriter” by John Swenson in Rolling Stone. Folk Hotel is a mix of Americana, Tex-Mex, Cowboy, Folk, Blues, Poetry and Elizabethiana (I may have invented the word but have ...
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PONS AELIUS – Captain Glen’s Comfort (own label PACGC01)

Great band name, Pons Aelius. To save you the trouble, the original was a small Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall so the name reflects their musical heritage: mostly Newcastle with more than a dash of Scots. Captain Glen’s Comfort, named for a tune by piper and whistle-blower Jordan Aikin and ...
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PAUL BRADY – Unfinished Business (Proper PRPCD144P)

On September 8th, Paul Brady releases Unfinished Business. It features nine new compositions and two traditional folk songs. The album is Brady’s fifteenth solo album and covers a range of styles – as well as the traditional folk songs there are elements of jazz, country, Brady’s own unique folk style ...
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RYAN YOUNG – Ryan Young (Ryan Young Music RYM01CD)

Ryan Young has already begun garnering what are doubtless only the first of many awards and accolades for his superb fiddle-playing. His self-titled debut album simply brims over with originality and talent: a little sonic jewel. That his fans went out and secured the talents of Grammy-winning Jesse Lewis to ...
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BLIND RIVER SCARE – Pastures New (Creosote CR004CD)

Blind River Scare is the performing vehicle for South Wales based singer-songwriter, Tim Manning, here, on their fourth album, working as a trio with Steve Loosemeore on upright bass and Mike Hopkins providing harmonium, mandolin and Hammond augmenting his acoustic and resonator guitar. Musically, he’s rooted in Americana, alt-country and ...
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PAUL ANDERSON – The High Summit (Fingal Records FINCD506)

I sometimes while away an idle moment trying to discern trends in Scottish music and I always fail. There are young musicians playing the oldest tunes they can find, others pushing the boundaries of composition in their reinterpretation of old forms and some playing rock’n’roll on bagpipes and big drums ...
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ODDFELLOW’S CASINO – Oh, Sealand (At The Helm/Microcultures)

Taking their name from Ambrose Oddfellow, a Victorian freakshow host whose moustache frontman David Bramwell apparently inherited from a great-aunt, the Brighton outfit have released seven albums over their 15-year career. The latest emerges from John Higgs’ commissioning Bramwell, himself an author of various books and presenter of assorted Radio ...
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SAM DRAISEY – As I Live And Breathe (own label)

“I’m the last of the protest song heroes” sings Sam Draisey in ‘Five Years Later’. That in itself is unusual because many writers of protest songs deny that’s what they are. Furthermore, ‘Five Years Later’ is a very good protest song and it comes on the back of ‘The Worst ...
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BLAKE’S FORTUNE – Hello World (own label)

Blake’s Fortune is the nom de plume of a young singer-songwriter from Dublin. His real name is John Lennon which, you have to admit, is something of a hostage to fortune for a man in his position. He’s been around a while, previously working as a member of Pina Kollars' ...
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BIRD RADIO/BONES & THE AFT – You’ve Been Kind! (Liver & Lights No. 55)

John Bently never does things the easy way. You’ve Been Kind! is available on vinyl with a hand printed sleeve and poster or on CD. Both have a lyric booklet (also hand made) which is slightly different in each version and both are very limited editions. It is more easily ...
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GREG RUSSELL – Inclined To Be Red (Fellside FECD281)

More commonly seen in partnership with Ciaran Algar, Greg Russell now also embarks on a solo career with an album the title of which refers more to his politics than the colour of his hair. That said, accompanied just by banjo, he does include a cover of the American traditional ...
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THE LAST DINOSAUR – The Nothing (Naim Records NAIMDD350)

Funny thing, grief. There might be an immediate gut punch of loss, but the full effects are often only truly recognisable with years of hindsight. The Nothing, The Last Dinosaur’s second album, allows singer/songwriter Jamie Cameron finally to give voice to the grief of losing his closest friend in 2005 ...
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COHEN BRAITHWAITE-KILCOYNE – Outway Songster (WildGoose WGS 422 CD)

An outway songster was one who sang traditional song and popular hits of the time but “actually invented new ones themselves” according to Lucy Broadwood and Fuller Maitland. Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne doesn’t go as far as covering Lady Gaga and it is difficult to point the finger at the song he ...
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AMANDA ANNE PLATT & THE HONEYCUTTERS – Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters (Organic Records OR 16902)

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters (formerly known simply as The Honeycutters) is the fifth Long Player from the group and is available in the UK from August 4th, coinciding nicely with their first ever British tour. While there are folkie and rocky influences within this album, it is most ...
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SONGDOG – Joy Street (Junkyard Songs JSLPCD17)

I became a convert to Welsh poet-novelist-playwright Lyndon Morgans’ often talk-sing vocal style and deeply poetic narrative lyrics with the band’s second album and have not been disappointed since. Joy Street, his seventh release, doesn’t break the spell. Produced by Nigel Stonier and featuring backing trio of Karl Woodward on ...
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THE FOUR OF US – Sugar Island (Future FUTURECDS011)

The Four of Us have had limited exposure elsewhere in the UK but have been a major force in Irish music since 1989 when they had a massive hit with ‘Mary’. The core of the band are brothers Brendan and Declan Murphy. They beat U2 to the title of Best ...
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BILL MADISON – If I Had The Time (own label)

Unlike his last release, the latest offering from the deep and dusty voiced New England singer-songwriter, his thirteenth, is, save for one number, all self-penned, either solo or in collaboration, Bill playing guitars, dobro, dulcimer and synth with contribution on drums and lead guitar from John Dudli and JP Kallio ...
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ANDY GRIFFITHS – Big Red Monster (Musician Records MR011)

The Big Red Monster of the title is probably the rusting old tractor on the back cover but even Andy Griffiths isn’t quite sure. This is Andy’s third album of original songs, gentle and thoughtful with the laid-back support of a fine group of musicians including Rick Foot, Natasha Pattinson, ...
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CATHERINE MacLELLAN – If It’s Alright With You: The Songs of Gene MacLellan (True North TND670)

The name might not be familiar, but you should certainly be familiar with the late Gene MacLellan’s songs, if not as a performer himself (though he did make four albums), but as writer whose work has been covered by the likes of Loretta Lynn, Joan Baez and Elvis. One in ...
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OFFA REX – The Queen Of Hearts (Nonesuch)

Born in Florence but raised in Oxford, Olivia Chaney’s 2015 debut album following contributions to assorted collections and albums by Seth Lakeman and Alasdair Roberts earned her extensive praise and many fans. Not least among them being Colin Meloy of Portland indie rock Americana outfit The Decemberists who struck up ...
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REV HAMMER AND NICK HARPER – Live at Unit 23 Live, Totnes

Folk Rock legends, Rev Hammer and Nick Harper wowed the audience at Unit 23 Live in Totnes, South Devon recently. The venue owner Simon has just taken over, and making a huge mark on this quirky venue in the middle of an industrial estate. Ex South Hams Radio presenter – ...
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AULD HAT NEW HEIDS – Volume 1 (Rickety Rackety Records RRR005)

The stated aim of Auld Hat New Heids’ album is to recreate the glory days of folk clubs – you remember; when we could go out for a good sing, have a couple of pints and still go home with change from a quid (yes, I am that old). This ...
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CHRISTINE PRIMROSE – Gràdh Is Gonadh – Guth Ag Aithris (Temple COMCD2109)

That Christine Primrose is one of Scotland’s premier Gaelic singers is a given. The title translates as Love & Loss – A Lone Voice and that tells you pretty much all you need to know. There are eleven newly recorded tracks and three bonus tracks one of which, from a ...
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CORY FLYNN – A Boy Named Hunger (Long Way Home Music LWHM 003)

Cory Flynn, from Brighton, is just 16 years old, but has been performing both as a soloist and in bands for nearly six years. And on the 15th September 2017, his first studio album, A Boy Named Hunger, will be released. His web site tells us that his style is ...
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LEVERET – Inventions (Rootbeat RBRCD38)

After two very successful albums and sold out gigs, Leveret bounce back onto the music scene with Inventions, an album of original material which was recorded live at Real Life studios in April 2017. Leveret comprises of fiddler extraordinaire – Sam Sweeney, who was 2015 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ...
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VARIOUS – Spiritual Music From The Hebrides (AN LANNTAIR)

Spiritual Music From The Hebrides was recorded at a live event that drew together singers and musicians from the worlds of the Presbyterian church, classical and traditional music. At its heart is the centuries-old tradition of Gaelic psalm singing which is pretty much unique to the Hebrides. Five of the ...
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HANNAH JOHNSON– Shaken (Woodville)

Physically based in Kings Heath, Birmingham but with her spiritual and musical homes shared between Nashville and Austin, Johnson was formerly one–third of Western Swing and bluegrass trio The Toy Hearts. But then, a couple of years back, guitarist and fellow vocalist sister Sophia decide to move to Austin, initially ...
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BENJAMIN FOLKE THOMAS – Acoustic Classics (Louvaio Lou006)

Folking.com has already announced the imminent release of Acoustic Classics by Benjamin Folke Thomas - http://folking.com/benjamin-folke-thomas-returns-with-live-album/ - with the back story to the singer’s life and an explanation that this is a ‘live’ album with a difference: it has been recorded in Folke Thomas’ living room with himself as the ...
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SLAID CLEAVES – Ghost On The Car Radio (Candy House Media CHM 130)

It’s been four years since there was any new material from the Maine-bred, Texas-based Cleaves, but, marking his 25th year in the business, he returns in splendid form with Ghost On The Car Radio, an album that has brings a keen eye and an open heart to the changing times ...
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VARIOUS – Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams (Slate Creek SCR0526172)

Now 78 and still going strong (his most recent album being in 2014), Don Williams is, both in person and on disc, one of the most laid back country artists you could imagine. Initially finding success as part of 60s folk-pop outfit The Pozo Seco Singers, whose hits included ‘I ...
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SINGLES BAR 23

A round-up of recent EPs and singles SAILING STONES is the name by which Irish born, London-based Jenny Lindfors plies her trade, the digital self-produced, self-released ‘Telescopes’ her second release, piano, brass and mellotron coming together for an atmospheric five-minute electro-folk reflective ballad about learning what love is and means ...
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ELLIOTT MORRIS – Lost & Found (Dominoes Club DCRCD001)

An Anglo-Scot, based in Yorkshire, the soft-voiced Elliott Morris plies a mix of folk and blues that highlight his percussive guitar slapping technique on a collection of originals, collaborations and a couple of traditional reworks. He eases listeners into his debut album, Lost And Found, with the pastoral ambience of ‘Lost’, ...
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BLACK*SCARR – Deluded (own label)

Having released the second album with band project The Persecuted just a couple of months ago, East End-based singer-songwriter Johnny Black makes a swift return with Deluded, the fourth album alongside partner and fellow songsmith Emma Scarr. This time round, it’s Scarr taking the vocal spotlight on the majority of ...
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AMY HENDERSON – Soul For A Compass (own label AH2017CD)

These days we need all the cheering up we can get and my first thought was that this record would do the job nicely. Amy Henderson is a graduate of the Plockton school, studying accordion under Blair Douglas, and is as much a teacher in community music projects as she ...
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MARY ANN KENNEDY – An Dàn (Arc Music EUCD2737)

Mary Ann Kennedy describes this album as Gaelic songs for a modern world. An Dàn means…well, dàn means song but it also means destiny, which may be Gaelic humour. Mary Ann is from Skye and is, of course a Campbell. She is well-known as a broadcaster and producer as well ...
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WEST OF EDEN – No Time Like The Past – A Collection (West of Music WOMCDII)

A school trip to Dublin the early 90s was to prove the catalyst for 20 years of music when classmates and subsequently husband wife Martin and Jenny Schaube fell in love with Celtic music. They formed West of Eden in 1995, releasing their debut album two years later. Since then, ...
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THE BROTHERS BRIGGS – The Brothers Briggs (All Made Up Records, AMU0010)

This self-titled album by The Brothers Briggs drops in like the soundtrack to a long-lost folk horror film. There’s that delicious sense of the indefinably off-kilter, a queasy disorientation counterpointed by earthy and sweet vocal harmonies. There’s a real sense of rootedness in the music, yet this selection of traditional ...
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CANNY FETTLE – Still Gannin’ Canny (Canny Fettle Records CANNYCD001)

You know the kind of friendships where you don’t see one another for ages, yet when you next meet up, you just pick up right where you left off, like you’d never been away? Well, that’s the sound of Still Gannin’ Canny, right there. It might be some 30 years ...
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GREG RUSSELL – Inclined To Be Red (Fellside FECD281)

When he isn’t partnering Ciaran Algar or working with Nancy Kerr’s Sweet Visitor Band and half a dozen other projects, Greg Russell follows another path. Inclined To Be Red would seem to be his first completely solo album even though he seems to have been around for ever…and he’s still ...
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TORI REED – The Snug Sessions (own label)

The Snug Sessions opens with ‘Narcissistic Blues’, Tori’s voice over gentle piano, and you think that you’ve got this sussed. Then, with no warning, the band kicks in and you have to shelve any preconceptions. There’s trumpet and saxophone from Jenny Murphey and Ben Tynegate’s wah-wah guitar and a clever, ...
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KEITH JAMES – Tenderness Claws (Hurdy Gurdy HGA2926)

On his web site, Keith James describes his career as esoteric and secretive, but he has actually attracted a good deal of respect for his sensitive interpretations of the songs of Nick Drake, John Martyn and Leonard Cohen, and his musical settings of his own poetry and that of well-loved ...
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VIKKI CLAYTON – Messenger (own label)

I suppose that I first encountered Vikki Clayton one Cropredy when she was fronting Fairport Convention to perform some of Sandy Denny’s songs. I bought a lot of her albums but sort of lost touch with her after Movers And Shakers and that was twenty years ago. There is even ...
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REG MEUROSS – Faraway People (Hatsongs HAT011)

I enjoyed Reg’s previous album, December, and Faraway People is more of the same and even better than its predecessor. Once again Reg has stripped himself back to the basics of voice and guitar – plus a bit of banjo and harmonica - with only engineer Roy Dodds in the ...
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ANNA COOGAN – The Lonely Cry of Space & Time (AC004)

The Lonely Cry Of Space And Time by Anna Coogan was released on April 28th but I’ve only just had a copy to review. Is there a genre for Indie-Goth-Opera (IGO perhaps?) [I’d prefer IGOR – ed.]. There ought to be because I’ve no idea otherwise how to give a ...
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DEMPSEY BROUGHTON – Off By Heart (own label SAECD14)

Kevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton have been in the business for so many years and in so many line-ups that it seems impossible to count. You can mention The Albion Band, the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, the Urban Folk Quartet, Dando Shaft, Whippersnapper and Lazarus before you have to stop and ...
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COAST – Windmills In The Sky (Ruabhal Records SAM04)

Coast is a folk-rock band, with the emphasis on the rock, formed by Paul Eastham and Chris Barnes back in 2009. Windmills In The Sky is their third album and I hope it will be the one that propels them to greatness. They spent their childhoods on Benbecula in the ...
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SINGLES BAR 22

A round-up of recent EPs and singles Following four independent releases, Ontario siblings THE ABRAMS BROTHERS mark their major label debut with a self-titled EP (Warner Music 237811), a six tracker collection of country tinted pop that kicks off with ‘Champion’, a number that mixes together American Football’s ‘When The ...
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JOE BROUGHTON’S CONSERVATOIRE FOLK ENSEMBLE – Painted (own label SAE16CD)

I’ve seen Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble on stage just once and it was an exciting experience. It was a small theatre and I reckon there were more people on stage than there were in the audience – what a sound - and Joe says that they might have turned ...
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THE DRYSTONES – We Happy Few (own label)

The Drystones are two young chaps from Somerset: Alex Garden and Ford Collier; singers and multi-instrumentalists who made their debut album at age 16. Remarkably, this is already their third outing. On the surface, We Happy Few seems typical of albums of our age. Three songs and eight instrumental sets ...
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